The media mogul Kelvin MacKenzie is set to launch a rival sports radio station to Talksport – the station he founded 15 years ago.
The former editor of The Sun, who sold Talksport to UTV Media for £100m in 2005, has built a consortium with the engineer Babcock International and radio group Orion Media and hopes to win a digital slot for Sports Radio from the regulator Ofcom later this year.
He said: “It’s been clear to me for some time that there’s room for another player in the sports radio market. In capitalism, where there’s one there should be two.”
The managing director Jason Bryant, who worked with MacKenzie at Talksport, said he wants to create a station that can compete with the rival and bring in new listeners.
He said: “With BBC 5 Live unable to provide a full sports service because of its news commitments and Talksport being remarkably similar to the line-up we launched with 15 years ago, we believe there’s now a market for a new generation of listeners, talent and advertisers.”
Ofcom is picking stations to enter a second national digital radio multiplex – or list of stations offered through digital radios – and Mr MacKenzie will face tough competition from Talksport owner UTV, which has already said it wants to launch three new stations.
The new station is part of Listen2Digital’s bid to run the second multiplex and wants to offer listeners Premier League football, Test match cricket, rugby, golf and horse racing.
Mr MacKenzie had originally applied to be part of a rival bid for the multiplex, with a consortium of UTV, Arqiva and Bauer Media, but said he was turned down because UTV wants to launch a new talk radio service, business station and Talksport 2.
He said: “We presume UTV refused to allow us into their multiplex where they had equity [of 30 per cent].
“It underlines the importance of the platform being awarded to a party that will not act solely in its own interests. The listener deserves a choice. The Babcock consortium is clearly more independent.”
If the bid is successful, the new station could launch in January 2016.